Unusual first initials are in vogue, apparently. When we created the Y or Y Not? Hall of Names team earlier, we noted that fully half (six) of the 12 players in major league history who have borne a first/given name starting with the letter "Y" were active in 2005.
Taking the next step (alphabetically, anyway), we can also note that of the just 14 players in major league history who have borne a first/given name starting with the letter "Z," more than 20 percent (okay, that's just three) were active in 2005. And for the record, that doesn't include the fine young Colorado hurler, Stephen Zachary Day.
And eight of the fourteen are pitchers already, so it's not like we're going to get a full roster, or even a full lineup, from this group anyway. Maybe we could if ...
... we expanded the usual rules to include middle names like Day's and nicknames like Ziggy Hasbrook, Zaza Harvey, Zip Zabel and the 10 guys tagged with "Zeke" as their big league monikers. But this is not to be; we will, however, make an exception for a Z-named player who bore a different nickname; but given his middle name, how could we deny Zerah Zequiel "Rip" Hagerman a roster spot?
Among the tools available to this Z-team missing from the aforementioned Y-Nots is an All-Star player, a league MVP and a Hall of Famer, not to mention a legitimate 100-game winner to front the rotation. There's actually a decent four-man rotation -- two lefties and two righties, even! -- available, but as already observed, the full rostering of this team -- unless Bauxites out there have alternative suggestions? -- is simply not to be. (Hey, it was hard enough cobbling together the Z is for Zimmer, Zito and Zisk squad waybackwhen!)
So what does a list of these (catcher-free, unfortunately) players look like? Let's Zee ...
** indicates Hall of Famer
* indicates All-Star
1B Zachary Taylor (.250 for 1874 Baltimore Canaries)
SS/2B Zebulon Terry (.260, 1916-22)
SS Zoilo Versalles* (.242, 1959-71, 1965 AL MVP)
3B Zinn Beck (.226, 1913-18)
2B/UTIL Zach Sorensen (7-for-49 with 2003 CLE, '05 LAD)
OF Zack Wheat** (.317, 2884 hits)
LHSP Zane Smith (100-115 in 13 years)
RHSP Zack Greinke (13-28 for 2004-05 KCR)
LHSP Zach Duke (8-2, 1.81 as 2005 rookie)
RHSP Zerah Zequiel "Rip" Hagerman (19-33, 1909-16)
LHRP Zach Crouch (1.3 IP for 1988 BOS)
RHRP Zach Monroe (4-2 for 1958 NYY)
RHRP Zeb Eaton (4-2 for 1945 DET)
RHRP Zak Shinall (2.2 IP for 1993 SEA)
Who knew there were so many different ways to spell "Zach"? Any thoughts on what's mizzing or other ways to improve zis team?